Honda Grand Prix of Alabama Live Thread
There are two things going for the race today and the possibility of action. One is that it appears the red optional tires, which have better grip than the blacks, are falling off quicker than usual. The red and blacks were supposed to create passing by having a tire that wears off faster. This mostly hasn't materialized though, as Firestone understandability doesn't want tires going off quickly. However, when the reds do wear off quickly, like at Sonoma, it makes a big difference. We also have the two presumptive championship favorites starting farther back than expected. Will Power got caught in a red flag in Round 2 of qualifying, negating a top lap and relegated him to 9th. Dario Franchitti, meanwhile, just plain didn't have the speed to get out of Round 1, and thus will start 18th. After disappointing finishes at St. Pete, this two need to move up through the field, or they might not be the presumptive title favorites anymore.
Chevy appeared to be ahead of Honda last week, especially in cornering speed. This was best shown with Helio's pass on the outside of Dixon for the virtual lead. That advantage has continued so far in Barber. Helio is on pole, with James Hinchcliffe on the outside. Only 4 of the top 12 spots are Hondas, with Scott Dixon and Mike Conway leading the way on the second row. Lotus, meanwhile, remains well behind, and so far are struggling just to keep from having issues. Alex Tagiliani and Oriol Servia have both changed engines, and Sebastien Bourdais' engine appeared to have quit during morning warm-ups.
Despite that advantage though, I'm going to go with my gut and pick Scott Dixon to win. Like Helio, Dixon seems rejuvenated with the new car, and if he can avoid his recent early season bad luck, he's definitely a championship factor. My dark horse is Simon Pagenaud, who was quickest in morning warm-ups and has been very impressive so far this year. That one car team at Sam Schmidt Hamilton Motorsports is looking like it'll be a thorn in the side of the big teams.
Coverage today is on NBC Sports Network and begins at 1:30 with the debut of INDYCAR 36, which is a similar program to NHL 36. Tony Kanaan will be featured in the debut episode. Pre-race than starts at 2:00 eastern, with green flag at approximately 2:45. For reference, Timing and Scoring can be found here. Also, check out More Front Wing's Event Summary for everything you need to know about the race weekend. It's quickly become a must reference for IndyCar fans throughout the weekend. Q it up here throughout the day.